HUMBOLDT — Humboldt businesses are ready to reopen, following the provincial government’s plan, said the city’s chamber of commerce.
“The businesses are all ready to go. Every business has been working through plans to get reopened,” said Brent Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce.
“They're going to be ready and they're going to need your support. Let's get out there and do that.”
On April 23, the province released a five-phase plan to reopen Saskatchewan businesses and services. Phase I, which includes previously restricted medical services like dentists, optometrists and chiropractors, begins on May 4.
Government officials emphasize that the reopening plan is gradual. Plans could change thanks to new data on items like transmission patterns.
“We need to understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer.
“I think it makes absolute sense to walk steadily through this process and just be very wary that at any point, should the new cases begin to spike again, it could all change very quickly,” Fitzpatrick said.
Retail businesses that were required to shut down to the public, hairdressers and acupuncturists are expected to be able to reopen for Phase II, which starts May 19.
Businesses will have to follow guidelines aimed at restricting the spread of COVID-19.
Operations need to be adjusted to ensure a distance of two metres between people. Customers should be encouraged to use credit or debit cards for payment. Frequent cleaning and disinfection is necessary. Commonly touched areas and shared equipment must be cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily, or when visibly soiled. All workers must self-monitor for symptoms.
Other restrictions, like limiting gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, limiting non-essential travel, requiring international travellers to self-isolate for 14 days and banning visitors from health facilities and long-term care homes are still in effect.
Fitzpartick said it falls on Humboldt residents to follow the restrictions so that the province doesn’t have to backtrack and reapply any restrictions.
“This is where the responsibility of being a citizen comes into play,” he said.
“We need to support our local businesses, but we need to do it in a fashion that is responsive and respectful to the environment that we're all in.”
The Humboldt chamber also operates a campground, which are able to reopen on June 1 as part of Phase I.
“We now have a date, so we can begin the planning for the [season],” Fitzpatrick said.
Restrictions on campsites include limiting capacity 50 per cent with no adjacent sites occupied at the same time, as well as requiring enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices at central dump stations and water fill stations, and keeping shared and recreational facilities closed.
“I certainly applaud it because I'm the last thing I want is my staff exposed to anybody who could potentially be a carrier,” Fitzpatrick said.